Paired together by their due dates, the May Mothers have quickly become each other’s best friends, confidants, and support group in the early days and months of parenting. After seven weeks of no sleep, dirty diapers, and trying to be the perfect mother, the group decides they need an evening out. That is especially true for single mother, Winnie.
After making arrangements for child care for Winnie’s son Midas, the group heads out to a local bar on the fourth of July to feel like grown-ups again. But things soon take a tragic turn when baby Midas vanishes from Winnie’s apartment and sets off a media firestorm. Turns out Winnie is the childhood start of a hit series about dancing and the circumstances of Midas’ disappearance threaten to expose not only her secret, but secrets of all the May Mothers. Continue reading
While spending a normal Sunday evening at the local park, Rachel Jenner allows her son Ben to run ahead to the tire swing. Upon arrival at the swing, she finds no trace of Ben. Things escalate when Ben’s clothes are found and the police begin a search to find the missing boy.
What unfolds over the course of the next week quickly evolves into a nightmare not only for Rachel but also for the police officers assigned to the case. Rachel and the police are put under the microscope by social media with every move they make being questioned, debated, and dissected in the court of public opinion. Things aren’t helped when Rachel decides to go off script of broadcast appeal to whomever has kidnapped her son.
At each turn, the pressure builds and builds with the reader knowing the case had negative ramifications for all parties involved. The prologue lets readers in on the fact that something bad happened in the course of the investigation and there were negative outcomes for many of those involved. But just how negative is something that is kept hidden until the final chapters. Continue reading
A rainy afternoon turns into a parents’ worst nightmare. A five-year-old boy slips from his mother’s grasp and runs out in front of a car. What follows is a set of tragic events that set into motion that gripping mystery story, I Let You Go.
Haunted by the event, Jenna Gray flees to an isolated town, renting a home with little or no contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, the police task force assigned to the case is haunted by the fact that no witnesses will come forward and they can’t seem to find the missing piece of the puzzle to understand this tragic event, much less track down the culprit.
After an initial character choice that took me out of the novel for a moment (the lead detective’s name is Ray Stevens. As a big fan of the musician Ray Stevens, it took me a few pages to not see my favorite singer in the role as the lead detective), I Let You Go, slowly ratchets up the tension and suspense until the layers of the central mystery are slowly peeled back. It all adds up to one of the more satisfying series of revelations, character examinations, and solutions to the central mystery I’ve read. Every twist is earned and while I saw a few coming, Mackintosh pulls up a few surprises within the story.
I Let You Go is a bit of a slow-burn. The first half is all about putting the pieces on the board and setting up our assumptions of the characters, situation, and mystery. The second half is about pulling the rug out from under the readers in the most satisfying way possible. Be prepared to blaze through the second half of the novel and possibly stay up a bit later reading than you’d originally planned.
Seeking to escape from her patient turned stalker, psychologist Faith Corcoran changes her identity and relocates to Cincinnati to begin a new life in her grandmother’s home. Her desire to have a quiet life off the radar quickly goes sideways when Faith comes across one of two kidnapping victims on the lonely road to her new home. Now, she’s drawn into the investigation and its lead investigator, Deacon. Will they be able to figure out how Faith’s stalker might be tied to this new kidnapper before time runs out on the other kidnapping victim?
Billed as “romantic suspense,” Karen Rose’s Closer Than You Think is chock full of both. Faith and Deacon’s instant chemistry screams off the page, despite multiple warnings from Deacon’s co-workers that he shouldn’t get involved with a victim in a case he’s investigating. The suspense factor comes from the investigation into where the other girl is and what the potential connection is to Faith’s family and her past. Continue reading
With Gone Girl casting a huge shadow across the literary world, it seems like we get a potential “next Gone Girl” hitting the shelves every week.
On the surface, J.T. Ellison’s Lie to Me could be classified as another book trying to be the “next Gone Girl.” But that would sell her new psychological thriller short.
Ethan and Sutton Montclair appear to have a perfect life. Successful writing careers, the nice house, a perfect marriage. But if you pull back the layers a bit, things aren’t quite as perfect as they seem. Sutton is being harassed by a book blogger with an ax to grind, Ethan’s got a severe case of writer’s block and their marriage is on shaky ground from Ethan’s one-night stand and the death of their infant son. When Sutton vanishes one morning, leaving a note for Ethan not to try to find her, suspicion begins to fall firmly on Ethan. The discovery of a burned body that could be Sutton only ratchets up the scrutiny from the authorities and the media.
Ellison does a nice job of layering the tension in Lie to Me. As she peels away the layers of the Montclair marriage, we find out that neither Ethan nor Sutton is quite as innocent or as sweet as they portray themselves to the outside world.
While most of the novel is third-person narration, Ellison includes the occasional chapter from the first-person perspective of the mastermind of things. Determining who is speaking and what their vendetta is against the Montclairs really drives much of the novel
That is until we get the big reveal and things kind of go off the rails a bit.
I won’t ruin anything for anyone. But I can honestly say the first two-thirds of this novel had me gripped, intrigued and not able to turn the pages fast enough to see what development would come next. And then we get to the big reveal and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit. I wanted to make the jump with Ellison, but I just couldn’t.
That’s not to say that Lie to Me isn’t a good novel. It is very good. It’s just not a great one. And that’s a shame because, as I said, the first two-thirds of it are completely compelling.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.
When you write a book as successful as The Girl on the Train, expectations for your second novel are going to be through the roof. Paula Hawkins crafted one of the most page-turning novels of the year with Girl.
For her sophomore effort, Hawkins presents another shifting viewpoint mystery/thriller, but this time around readers are given more than three characters viewpoints to follow. With Into the Water, Hawkins attempts to go a bit deeper into the mystery of two drowning in a small town and the impact the crime has on the community. Like many of today’s better mystery writers, Hawkins’ story is not just interested in revealing the solution to the crime but also at the factors that led to the crime being committed and what that means for the characters that inhabit her world. Continue reading
Henrietta Hoffman (better known as Hattie in her small town) wears a lot of hats. Whether it’s honor’s student near the top of her senior class, the loving daughter of her parents or the dutiful girlfriend. But does anyone really know the REAL Hattie Hoffman?
Mindy Mejia’s Everything You Want Me to Be examines a year in the life of Hattie Hoffman as she struggles to find out the role she really wants to play in life. The big problem is that just as Hattie is figuring out who she wants to be, she meets an untimely end under suspicious circumstances. Continue reading
The runaway success of “Gone Girl” has created a new sub-genre in the mystery/thriller section. It seems like every other book that comes out these days cover blurb touts it as being in the “same vein as ‘Gone Girl.'”
And while there have been a few books that have come close to capturing the page-turning intensity of Gillian Flynn, there have been more than a few that felt like pale imitations of the original.
For the first third of “Distress Signals,” it feels like Catherine Ryan Howard has tapped into the same vein Flynn did with “Gone Girl.” Only to see it all fall apart the more Adam Dunne digs into the disappearance of his fiance, Sarah. Continue reading
As a rule, I don’t peak ahead at the ending of novels.
But there are some books for which exceptions have to be made. And Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door turned out to be one of those.
When their babysitter cancels at the last minute, Marco convinces his wife Anne that they can leave their infant daughter home alone while they attend a dinner party next door. If they take the baby monitor with them and take turns checking on their daughter every half hour, nothing could possibly go wrong.
Coming back home from the party, they discover the door ajar and their baby kidnapped. The police are called in and things just aren’t adding up on how and who could or would have kidnapped the little girl. As the investigation deepens, secrets about not only Marco and Anne are revealed but also about their neighbors and Anne’s parents. In short, everyone has something to hide when it comes to the kidnapping.
I have to admit that about a tenth of a way into the novel, I had to skip ahead and see how certain events played out. I didn’t want to ruin any of the twists or character revelations (I luckily didn’t) but instead wanted to find make sure the baby didn’t come to any harm. As a new parent, the idea of someone kidnapping an infant daughter gave me the cold sweats and I didn’t want to continue the story if the outcome was extremely negative. Continue reading